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Colorado town asks judge to lift gag order in movie theater rampage

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - The Colorado city of Aurora has asked a judge presiding over the criminal case of last summer's movie theater massacre to lift a gag order barring police and emergency personnel from publicly discussing the rampage, a court filing made public on Wednesday showed.

Days after the July 20 shooting in which 12 died and dozens wounded, Arapahoe County District Judge William Sylvester imposed a court order prohibiting any party involved in the case, including law enforcement, from talking about it in the media.

Former graduate student James Holmes is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder stemming from the shooting spree at a midnight screening of the Batman film "The Dark Knight Rises."

After a three-day preliminary hearing last week, Sylvester ruled the prosecution had presented sufficient evidence for Holmes to stand trial.

The city's motion said that because details of the crime were aired in open court, "the evidence has already been revealed to millions of people worldwide." It asked the judge to consider allowing the town's police officers and firefighters to talk about their response to the tragedy.

Holmes, 25, is scheduled to enter a plea to the charges in March. If he enters a not guilty plea, prosecutors have 60 days to decide whether to seek the death penalty.

Movie exhibitor Cinemark planned to formally reopen the multiplex to the public this coming weekend. It has said it is offering free movie passes to survivors, families of the victims and police and emergency personnel who were involved.

(Reporting and writing by Keith Coffman; Editing by Steve Gorman and Philip Barbara)

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